“HE WAS MADE KNOWN TO THEM IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD.” The Gospel at the Easter VIGIL is always from that year’s liturgical ‘Cycle’ of readings. We are now in Cycle ‘A,’ so this year we proclaim Saint Matthew’s account of the first Easter; last year, in ‘C,’ it was Saint Luke’s version; next year, in ‘B,’ it will be Saint Mark’s version. On Easter DAY, we may use that year’s version or Saint John’s version, which is very similar to the three synoptic Gospels, which means ‘from the same eye.’ However, at Masses on Easter’s later afternoon or night, we may use Luke 24:13-35, from which the quote [24:35b] starting this paragraph was taken. In that account, there are no frightened women with burial ointments, rolled away stone, folded burial cloths, angelic messengers, or empty tomb.
Instead, there are two grief-stricken disciples, Cleopas and an unnamed companion, who pour out their hearts to a stranger who meets them on the Road to Emmaus. Although He interpreted for them, in detail, all the Scriptures that referred to His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, they did not realize He was the Risen Lord – until He sat at table with them … and broke the bread. Only then were their eyes opened, did their minds begin to comprehend, and their hearts rejoice! The missing piece of the puzzle they desperately needed in order to see and understand the whole picture was … the EUCHARIST!
As you may know, we are near the end of the first year of a three-year NER: National Eucharistic Revival. Through it, our American Bishops hope that we do as those two disciples did: come to know the Risen Lord’s presence “in the breaking of the bread.” This was one of the first names used by the Bible to describe what we now call the Mass: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” [Acts 2:42] In his first Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul refers to it as the Lord’s Supper. [This is Part 25 of my series of bulletin articles on the NER; past articles are on our Parish website: www.stmaryrutherford.org.]
There are many ways to get to know ABOUT Jesus and His Church. The Bible and other holy books are excellent sources of information about our Lord and His many marvelous deeds. So, too, are documentaries, videos, and movies. Over the years, many have been moved by the 1977 ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ television series, the 2004 film, ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ and, most recently, ‘The Chosen.’ Those who, like me, have made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, gained new insights by ‘being there.’ Bible Study and Prayer Groups are also helpful. However, as those two disciples on the Road to Emmaus learned: there is only ONE MAIN WAY [while we are still on earth!] to get to KNOW Jesus: there is no substitute for the Real Thing … forgive me; I should have said … for the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist!
No wonder Holy Mother Church insists that her children come to the Lord’s Table to participate in holy Mass every week! She also mandates that we must receive Holy Communion at least once a year, after confessing our sins in the Sacrament of Penance aka Confession if necessary. [I also did a recent series, available on our Parish website, on the newly revised Order of Penance for those who need to get reacquainted with this great Sacrament of Healing.]
Study after study is showing the tremendous damage done by the COVID-induced shutdown and limitations on public gatherings. Children seemed to have suffered the most by not being able to gather for school and other interactive events. However, people of all faiths were also crippled by the inability to worship together and take part in religious rites and time-honored rituals. Many also got so use to participating in these things virtually, that they have yet to return in person – or gave up totally on exercising their Faith!
The Risen Lord longs to gift us with the graces that can help us overcome life’s many challenges. And the main way Jesus has chosen to channel His help to us is through the Church and her Sacraments, above all, “in the breaking of the bread.” So, come to the Lord’s Table, come to the Banquet of Life, come eat and drink the Food of Eternal Life, as often as you can! Happy Easter!
With God’s love and my prayers,
Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS